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Black officer speaks out about race and policing in the U.S.

These deaths were followed by the murder of five Dallas police officers at a Black Lives Matter protest against the violence, while a reporting project by the Guardian newspaper reveals 140 African-Americans have been killed by police so far this year.

Black officer speaks out about race and policing in the U.S.

Police seen near barricades following the sniper shooting in Dallas July 7. (Laura Buckman/AFP/Getty)

Racial tensions flare in America this week after the police shooting deaths of two more black men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, were caught on video for all the world to see.

These deaths were followed by the murder of five Dallas police officers at a Black Lives Matter protest against the violence, while a reporting project by the Guardian newspaper reveals 140 African-Americans have been killed by police so far this year. 

Every one of these deaths strengthens the divide between black Americans and the police, but what of those caught on both sides? How does it feel to be a black cop in America?

'When we get into [policing], we're so busy trying to fit in that sometimes we forget who we really are.'- Bryan Pendleton, regional president of the National Black Police Association 

Bryan Pendleton's candid conversation with The Current about his 30 years' experience in law enforcement as a black man reveals the tension of that status, and offers a refreshingly fair perspective in the debate on police brutality.
 


 

 

Pendleton concedes there are definitely racists on police forces across America and that members of black communities are treated unfairly by cops, but says most police have entered the profession "for the right reasons." As a testament to the value and heroism of police officers, Pendleton cites anecdotes that as crowds fled the gunfire in Dallas, police ran towards it. 

'No matter what the relationship, with any community [police] are running to save them.'

Pendleton thinks changes must come from both sides for peace to occur. Police academies should offer better education about minority communities to deter misguided suspicion, and cops need to come forward if they see fellow officers abusing power. By the same token, society has to stop painting the entire police force with the same brush.

Additionally, there needs to be more minority police officers. Pendleton maintains effective policing is contingent on good communication with the community, and looking like the person you're talking to offers significant comfort to all parties.

'One thing that's not played up enough are the positive relationships between police departments and communities — where officers aren't just there to police, they are there to give back, to volunteer, to build relationships.'

Listen to the entrire conversation at the top of this web post. 

This segment was produced by The Current's Pacinthe Mattar and Peggy Lam

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